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No full dry days in Gurugram except October 2

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Only one day in Gurugram will be completely dry mandates Haryana government’s new liquor licencing policy. Liquor will be served after 5pm on all “dry days” except Gandhi Jayanti (October 2).

The state has three dry days but the excise department has now allowed serving liquor after 5pm on Republic Day and Independence Day.

“The change in dry days has been made following a similar move in Punjab where liquor was allowed to be served in the evening on national holidays. This will generate more revenue for the state,” HC Dahiya, deputy excise and taxation commissioner, said.

The policy, announced on Tuesday, has also given relief to brewery owners as they will not have to pay additional fee to run a brewery and restaurant. Owners will now be allowed to run a restaurant with a single brewery licence, which will now cost Rs 20 lakh, officials of the excise department said. Earlier, the annual licence fee to run a microbrewery and a restaurant cost Rs 30 lakh.

To encourage the consumption of mild liquor, the state has allowed microbreweries to opt for licences without seeking a mandatory licence for hard liquor.

The annual licence fee for the microbrewery has been increased. The decision was taken after Delhi allowed microbreweries, due to which breweries in Gurugram will face competition, and the crowd might shift to the capital, leading to huge revenue losses,” additional chief secretary (excise and taxation) Sanjeev Kaushal said, adding that the policy has been made keeping the benefit of the public as well as revenues in mind.

Restaurant, pub and club owners are unhappy with the new policy as the annual licence fee to run a restaurant has been increased from Rs 15 lakh to Rs 18 lakh, which is the highest in the National Capital Region.

“The annual excise licence fee for restaurants in Haryana is already the highest across all the north Indian states. Instead of rationalising it, there has been an increase in the fee, which is a major concern for us,” Rahul Singh, president of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), said.

Owners, who want to operate till 1am, will have to shell out an additional Rs 10 lakh every year for permission, whereas establishments in Delhi are allowed to operate till then without additional duty.

“The reality is that many restaurants will not renew their licences, and new ones will not enter the field. The revenue loss and jobs will move to Delhi, which has a very attractive excise policy and vibrant nightlife. Compared to Delhi, all the liquor (domestic or imported ) will become more expensive. Delhi is still cheaper”, Singh said.

Delhi also has fair pricing in the form of maximum retail prices (MRP).

The excise policy has fixed the minimum selling price (MSP) of liquor, but there is no cap on maximum price, because of which liquor prices vary from outlet to outlet. “The concept of not standardising retail price gives a free hand to the vend to sell at their will,” Singh said.

The state has also allowed high-end liquor shops inside malls, and the excise fee on beer has been increased from Rs 25 per bulk litre to Rs 30 per bulk litre.

With the new policy, the concept of a single wholesale licence of IFL-BIO (imported foreign liquor-bottled in origin) has been quashed. There will now be four licence holders at a fixed fee of Rs 16 crore annually. This will create better assortment, availability and healthy compensation, Kaushal said.

The new excise policy has ended the monopoly of single vendor oversupply of IFL. Instead of giving licences to the highest bidder, the excise department will now issue licences to four vendors at fixed licence fees. The single-vendor policy had been opposed by retailers, restaurateurs and bar owners, who had moved the high court and Supreme Court against the policy as well.

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